Treasures – Shirley Temple doll

my mom, Mary Louise Hartwell, about 1930

I saw the new movie, The Artist (see the trailer here) the other night and walked out of the theater thinking about tap dancing, which is featured at the very end. That got me thinking about my mother’s life as a girl during the movie’s time period (late 1920’s-early 30’s). She took tap dancing lessons and I still have her Bell Tone taps, which I sewed into this little hanging I made years ago. It’s a forerunner to the wedding banners I’ve been making lately, which you can see here.

My Mom was one of the lucky girls of her generation to have a Shirley Temple doll, which I now have. The doll has been stored in her original wardrobe trunk all these years.

Shirley Temple was discovered at the age of 3 and became a hugely popular movie star when “Talkies” began to replace silent films in Hollywood in the 1930’s.

 It looks like my Mom peeled off most of the stickers, but here’s one that’s mostly left.

I found Shirley inside, along with a closet and card board drawers full of clothes.

She looks in pretty good shape. I remember seeing the doll as a child, but thankfully, she was kept away from our grubby fingers.

The pile of clothes includes some home-made ones as well as some outfits with “genuine” Shirley Temple tags.

This doll is a treasure to cherish. I’m glad to have this memory of my mother and times past.

15 thoughts on “Treasures – Shirley Temple doll

  1. Such a beautiful Shirley doll! My mother, born in 1929, won a Shirley look alike contest in 1934 and wanted a Shirley doll so badly her entire life. For her 75th Birthday, my Sister and I found one on eBay and purchased it for her. You would have thought she was 5 years old again receiving that doll. Though she is no longer with us, it still warms my heart to think of her receiving that doll and loving it even at 75! Thank you for sharing. Hugs, Janice

  2. Oh what a lovely reminder of your Mom. I would gently wash up the clothing. Don’t ever replace the dolls original hair or restore her it takes from the value and you want to keep her as your Mom had her anyway not like a new doll.

  3. What a fun, nostalgic post. I love my mom’s old collection of dolls too, but she didn’t have Shirley Temple! My sisters and I used to love watching the old Shirley Temple movies that were televised on Saturday afternoons when we were young. I’ll have to be sure and see “The Artist” – thanks for mentioning it!

  4. There was a Shirley Temple doll just like yours sitting in my grandparent’s basement. She didn’t have a trunk or collection of clothes other than what she had on, but oh how I coveted her. My grandmother had to tell me more than once that the doll had belonged to my Aunt Dorothy, and that the doll would one day go to her daughter. (not born yet) Thanks for sharing! I still have many of my dolls, most of them Ginny’s or Madame Alexander’s. The rubber bands that held them together have disintegrated, so they’re in a jumble.

  5. Loved your posting! Shirley Temple is a National Treasure…..not only an unbelievably adorable child & actress but she grew up into a lovely woman. Your pictures are so special. Aren’t dolls a wonderful binding thing between generations? Loved the story Janice posted about her mom’s desire for a Shirley Temple doll and their purchase of one for her when she was 75 years old. Good suggestion about the gentle washing of the clothes and no restoration of the doll. You surely have some wonderful treasures from your parents!! Thanks for sharing them!

  6. Love that sweet photo of your mother…how cute she was! How pretty she looks!

    This is one of the most sought after doll that collectors love. You would be surprised at their value even when they have not been well taken care of. Keep her away from humidity because that is what causes “crazing” (cracking of the composition material.) You could have this doll professionally cleaned and restored if you chose to. The tagged clothes are of value, too…how wonderful you have this doll that your mother played with! That is the greatest value of all. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Your mom was just adorable! I have some photos of my mom from around the same time with the same little Buster Brown hair cut — so sweet.
    And the Shirley Temple doll of you mom’s . . . what a treasure! My daughter has my old (from the early 60’s) Barbie dolls which I kept in a little red trunk with all the clothes (which were so well made back then — unlike now). Miraculously, almost all of it has survived my daughter’s childhood, and is now being enjoyed by my granddaughter – wonder if it will make it to the next generation ;).

  8. I had a Gerber baby doll, long gone, and my mom brought her Edward Bear over from Scotland as a child. This was the original Pooh Bear. He is in a museum in Wyoming.

    My mom threw away all the other dolls from her childhood, wonder if she had one of these? This is a wonderful inheritance you have. You should print up a copy of your memories and keep them with the doll. Such a rich history.

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